Comics Anonymous

January 26, 2012, 8:21 pm
Filed under: Comic Reviews, DC Comics | Tags: , , , , ,

Like probably many of the readers of this blog, I pre-order my comics two months in advance. It has it’s pros and cons. Pro – it means you’re more likely to get hold of that issue that ends up selling out and going to second print, but con – sometimes you’re taking a gamble and have to anticipate what’s going to be good and what’s not based on very little information. Granted the same risk is taken when you’re just buying from a shop, but it’s more likely you’ll have read or heard good / bad things from places like your faithful Comics blogs (hint – us). For me, this month was a particularly hard one – there appears to be a lot of new books coming out in March that I like the look of, but to add this to my already extensive pull list would be fatal on both my wallet and storage space. So I figured it was about time I had a look at my regular order to see what could be chopped – and since the biggest chunk is made up of DC’s New 52, I figured I’d share my thought process here as a way of micro-reviewing the current line-up. It’s timely also since DC themselves have seen it necessary to cut 6 of the original line up and replace with “second wave” titles…

The DCNew52 had a big impact on my monthly pull list – granted I was already up to my eyeballs in Batman, but here was a chance for me to jump on in places I’d always wanted to but never had the time. To be fair, month one was an easy choice – I’m sure a lot of you did the same as us at CA-HQ – get them all! There’s a good chance something like this won’t happen again in our lifetime…well, there’s probably a good 50/50 chance it won’t happen again, so why not just go all out? It was month two where the difficulty struck – remember you’re pre-ordering two months in advance, so picking a list of issue #2s that I want without having read issue #1? Owch. But this inevitably lead to:

“Those that didn’t make the first cut”

I could tell straight away there were those books that weren’t meant for me – Static Shock I’m looking at you. Actually I’m not sure Static Shock was meant for anyone. In all this time, this is the largest cull to my pull list – roughly 25% of the 52 got dropped at this stage before having read a single page, just purely based on my preconceptions of what the books will be like. Titles like Mister Terrific and O.M.A.C were a no brainer – I know I’m not going to like them.

Admittedly thought, there were a few I held out hope for, knowing I still had a safety net of picking up at release if I was really wowed by the first issue. I really wanted to like Men of War and Green Arrow, but it’s just as well I didn’t hold onto them, both lacking any real great fix. I was quite surprised with Blackhawks and I,Vampire, and may go back and read some of these when I get a chance, but there was simply no room for these on an already larger than normal order.

There were two books that the safety net was used on – Wonder Woman and Aquaman – my decision to exclude them originally was lack of interest for the characters, but was very surprised by both first issues – which was silly really when I knew that Azzarello was on WW. I’m starting to regret saving Aquaman though – yes the first issue was possibly the funniest comic of the 52, but Geoff Johns must have fallen asleep at his keyboard after writing the first script – the following issues have been pretty big stinkers and I’ve been holding out hope that it’ll return to that first issue glory – but it’s been in vain.

Between then and now there’s been time to read a few issues of each of the remaining titles, but here and there there’s been drop offs in my pull list – the ones I like to call:

“Those that I got bored of reading”

Some of these decisions will have been made after only reading issue #1 – and although this might be a little harsh, I had to remember that I was spending money on these, so I’ve got to weigh up if reading this book is giving me as much gratification as I’d have if I spent my £2 elsewhere – like on 4 packets of crisps, or a single fare on one of Glasgow’s finest buses or a couple of shots at the pub quiz machine. If Noel Edmunds popped up on one of these quiz machines and asked “Justice League International – Deal or No Deal?” – I’d have told the banker to sod his offer and send the JLI packing. Deathstroke and Suicide Squad should have been right up my street – a darker edgier side of DC that can literally get away with murder – but instead they spend their time either fighting Cars or a stadium full of zombies – lame-o!

There were a few I held out some hope for, and kept on a little longer than just 2 issues – Fury of Firestorm and Savage Hawkman both had characters I wanted to be interested in, and can see where they might have interesting stories – it was just a shame that they weren’t being told in these issues. To make some room on this month’s order I moved another two from my pull list to my kill list – Grifter and Red Hood, both of which I’m really sorry to see go, because I had these fairly high on my list of “new things to try”. I know Red Hood got slated from the get-go because of some idiotic choice of direction for Starfire, but I love Jason Todd’s character and am always interested to see what he does next – unfortunately though he wasn’t doing very much of interest. Again, I might come back to these ones if I find time.

Which left me with exactly half of the original 52. Pressure is now mounting from my want to read some of the new comics in March, as well the fact that probably 3 out of the 6 “Second wave” DC titles are going to end up on my pull list – I needed to make more room, and there has to be room to make – I need a:

“Final cut of only the cream of the crop titles”

My criteria needed to be strict on this – I had too many titles I was reading because I have too much affection for the main character(s), regardless of quality. So I needed to come up with a scale to measure the books by. I asked myself 3 questions for each title:

  • Can you remember everything that happened in the last 5 issues?
  • Would you class yourself a “fan” of any member of the creative team working on the title?
  • Do you actually care what happens next in this character(s) story?

So long as I could answer yes to all three of these questions, the book could stay. Which left me with a nice round 10. Want to know which ones?

The Flash: It was only briefly before Flashpoint started that I delved into the world of The Flash for the very first time, specifically the renumbered series that followed Rebirth and put Barry Allen back in the red suit – and I instantly fell in love with Francis Manapul’s artwork. I had my reservations about the New52 version, was Geoff Johns the secret ingredient to this comic? Could such an amazing artist make the jump and be just as good at writing? The fact that this is still probably in my top 2 books of the 52 gives you some hint to the answers!

Action Comics: Simple choice really when you’ve got Grant Morrison at the head of something – and although there have been a few minor things I’ve questioned, overall I think he’s working the same black magic he used on Batman – I only hope that he stays long enough to make this series just as epic.

Batman: I’ll refer you to my recent review of issue #5 for the reasons for keeping this in (p.s. It’s the book just above The Flash in my top 10)

Batgirl: There’s only 3 Bat-books now on my list (I can feel the withdrawal symptoms already) so there’s no room for messing about – and Gail Simone doesn’t mess about with characters. It’s the perfect match of Writer to Character, Gail is practically as close as you’ll get to a real life Barbara Gordon, she knows this girl inside out.

Batwoman: Like The Flash, this is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read – most issues jump between 3 or 4 different art style, sometimes in the one panel! If that’s not reason enough, it’s a bloody good story too.

Red Lanterns: I’m a little sad that this is the only Lantern book on my list, but in a way, it’s not really a Lantern book – it’s been so much more. While the other GL books have been zapping each other with lots of fancy colours, Peter Milligan has made this a book about the emotion these rings symbolise rather than the cool powers they might have.

Justice League Dark: Milligan does it again – dark, edgy and wonderful to look at (thanks to Mikel Janin), I feel these last few issues have only been an introduction to what’s about to come.

Swamp Thing: I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve fallen in love with this book and it’s characters. I may not have much knowledge of Swampy’s roots (see what I did there?) but Scott Snyder does a great job of not excluding people who’ve never read this title before.

Animal Man: What I class as the other half of Swamp Thing, these two books work great as a double feature when their week rolls round – and knowing that Scott and Jeff have big plans for these books is even more reason to keep going.

Frankenstein – Agent of S.H.A.D.E: If you’re thinking to yourself – “What is this doing here?” you’ve obviously not read it, or given it enough time. This might appear as a B-Movie mess on the face of it (I was expecting that too) but there’s so much more to this book than meets the eye.

So there you go – I managed it. Granted this won’t take effect for another couple of months since I’ve already placed those orders, but I’ll be trying my best not to let myself become complaisant with my decisions.

Of course, like everything on this blog, it’s just one person’s opinion – my choices are all built on personal taste. I know that my fellow CA team members won’t agree with everything I’ve discarded and will try to talk some sense into me, which is what makes things all the more interesting – if someone feels so passionately about a comic, then maybe I’m missing something? It’s one of the main reasons we started the site, to share that passion and hear the opinions of like-minded people – so by all means, tell me what you think of my choices and how you deal with the eternal struggle of compiling a monthly pull list – we’re not called Comics Anonymous for no reason you know…

Craig @hastiecraig

4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

What is it that you’re making room for in March? Whilst I don’t agree with some of your axing, that was a lot of New 52 to invest in.

Comment by Kim

Not helped by the fact that there’s a few Graphic Novels I’d like (Batman Death by Design and X-Men Season One) I like the look of Ragemoor (living castle!), Saucer (Paul Cornell and alien abductions!), Rebel Blood (Zombies from the people that gave us Cowboy Ninja Viking) and I’ll probably get sucked into Avengers vs X-Men in a bad way….

Comment by Craig

I’m with you on most of these……but I’m cutting it down to about 8……then down again to about 3 – Flash, Batman and Red Lanterns….eventually I think. Depends how this “2nd Wave” works out too.

Comment by G-Man

For me, Action Comics has come across as an incredibly bland, uninspired series so far. I dropped it quickly in favour of Supergirl, which is far more interesting, adventurous and entertaining. Wonder Woman, Batman, Swamp Thing, Birds of Prey, JLD and Animal Man make up the rest of my DC pull-list. I’m also partial to the odd issue of Mr Terrific though, which is absolute nonsense.

I, Vampire, All-Star Western, Batman & Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, Voodoo and Green Arrow are on my to-buy list for the next few weeks, especially with Ann Nocenti returning.

And! Batwoman is one of my least favourite books, at this point. The writing is fairly dreadful and DC really need, if not Greg Rucka, then at least somebody else co-writing the title who can actually handle the character.

Comment by Steve

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